Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Mason Missile, August 19, 2009

The Mason Missile
The E-mail Newsletter of
John Oliver Mason
August 19, 2009
(I’m also on Facebook)
Whoso would be a man must be a non-conformist.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
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Greetings, fellow freedom fighters, comrades, brothers and sisters! Happy (belated) Birthday to me! (August 1,a Leo.)
I have just taken and passed the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) test. This puts me further on the road to graduate school. I’ve always been a fan of education, which is the path to empowerment. You don’t necessarily need to go for a degree (it helps, though), just go to a library or an independent bookstore-PLEASE, they need the business against the Borders’ and Barnes and Nobles.
I have heard the stories of the deranged mobs, riled up by Fox “News” and the insurance companies, monopolizing town halls organized to discuss national health insurance-which I support 1000%, preferably a single-payer system as in Canada. Does health HAVE to be a commodity to be sold, is it a luxury? Through my union, I have a pretty decent health plan, where I don’t have to pay for visits in the clinic, and visits outside the clinic have a reasonable co-pay; I NEVER paid for dental work, either cleaning or checkups or two root-canal jobs; and the co-pay for prescriptions can be either five or ten dollars. I remember I had an accident once, and I hobbled around in pain; I paid over one hundred dollars for some pain-killers-big difference. (This is what a good union does for you-hint, hint!)
Sara Palin, the (fortunately) former Governor of Alaska and possible Republican presidential candidate (God help us!), has spread stories of “death panels,” government boards who, under a national health care plan, would decide to allow elderly patients to die if it’s more convenient. To spread these stories is irresponsible, and it shows the caliber of Republican leadership lately.
Fortunately, progressives, particularly in the Labor movement, are getting off the mat and standing up to these loonies; I myself was at the town hall meeting on August 12, held at Broad Street Ministries (Broad and Spruce), where US Representative Joe Sestak spoke. Health-care activists, representing the majority of Americans, PACKED the building, and I was one of those who had to be routed to the downstairs dining room. Only two anti-health-care people stood holding signs-one was for the insurance industry front group, “Patients First”-and a couple of lonely souls worked a table for Lyndon LaRouche. They must have thought we progressive people are wimps, easy to kick around; well, thank God, we’re kicking right back!
I remember in the mid-seventies, back in the day, the boogie stories about the Equal Rights Amendment, guaranteeing equal right for women-unisex toilets! Women forced to work outside the house! Husbands abandoning their wives! People did believe these stories.
What about the people yelling and screaming at the town halls about health care? Do they know how manipulated they are by the insurance companies and the corporate media? What drives them?
Also, there are the “birthers,” people who insist that President Obama, born in the State of Hawaii, was instead born in Kenya. Race is a major part of that-the fact that an African-American man is President of the United States-and this strikes at all notions of white-skin privilege, and what it means to be an “American” . (What if someone said that John McCain wasn’t really a citizen because he was born in the Panama Canal Zone?) This birther stuff has gone mainstream, beyond the racist web sites and blogs, and into Lou Dobbs’ show on CNN. (Dobbs has also gone off about illegal immigrants, so he does play the race theme.) These are the same people who try to crowd the town halls about health insurance. Is there any hope to reason with them, make them understand they’re being lied to?
The Republican party, with some honorable exceptions, has played up to these fears, constantly harping on them, to generate their base of voters-religious fundamentalists and bigoted people. Is that what the party of Abraham Lincoln has descended to?
From Nixon through Reagan to both Bushes, The Republican party has dumbed down political discussion. Nixon used racially suggestive code words, like “law and order,” right at the tail end of the civil rights movement; Reagan started his 1980 presidential campaign with stating his belief in “States Rights,” in Philadelphia, Mississippi, where three Civil Rights activists were killed in 1964, appealing to sentiments that have festered since the end of the Civil War. Bush I used the Willie Horton ads to bring about fears of Black rapists to win in 1988, and Bush II used the Religious right apparatus to win in 2000 and 2004. Along with this was the Cold war, with the republicans calling the Democrats “soft on defense,” leaving the nation vulnerable to a possible Soviet invasion, and also hinting that Liberal Democrats would bring about a Communist or Socialist regime in THIS country, destroying our liberties. (Do they even KNOW what these terms “Socialism,” Communism,” or ‘liberty” mean?)
And the result of all this? The “law and order” president Nixon attempts to subvert the Constitution with the “plumbers” break-in at the Democratic National headquarters at the Watergate building, creating the groundwork for a police state; after Nixon resigned, Ford pardoned him, and the Nixon supporters in the media said Nixon “suffered enough.” (If a Democrat did the same thing, wouldn’t they call for his imprisonment?) In the Iran-Contra scandal that hobbled the Reagan administration, Oliver North violated the law by selling anti-tank weapons to the Iranians during their war with Iraq (as we passed on weapons to Saddam Hussein, including chemical and biological weapons), and passed the profits on the Nicaraguan contras, after Congress banned our government funding the contras. I heard radio editorials supporting North saying “he acted illegally, but he acted.” So much for law and order; their idea of law and order was to smash all opposition, Constitution be damned!
And the response of the Democrats? To prove they also are “tough on defense,” as well as “tough on welfare,” voting to continue spending on weapons systems that only make arms manufacturers richer and many times don’t work, and blame financial problems on unemployed people who have no lobbyists to campaign for them in Congress and no media to put forth their stories. This is the “Republican Lite,” me-too strategy pursued by Democrats after the George McGovern defeat in 1972. The interests of working and low-income people have been safely ignored, and the democrats, even after the election of Obama, still have a way to go before being a “people’s party.”
I believe in working within the Democratic party AND in forming a left alternative party at the same time. Local Democratic party organizations, from the ward level, through city and county organizations, to the state level can be hived off to form an organizational structure, which a new party needs right away. Let’s mull this over as we keep fighting the good fight. Bye!